As published in British Wildlife: April 2005 edition: Creation and management of Stag Beetle habitats
Loss of habitat to development and changes in land management practices, particularly “tidying up” of dead wood are contributing factors in the decline of
the Stag Beetle Leucanus cervus.
Although the Stag Beetle is widespread in southern England, elsewhere in Britain it is extremely rare or even extinct. Evidence suggests that the beetle’s
natural range has declined and as a consequence the beetle has been included on Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended)
since 1998. The beetle receives partial protection under this act, which prohibits its sale. The Beetles are also featured on a range of local Biodiversity
Action Plans, including the London Biodiversity Action Plan.
Measures to mitigate for impacts to Stag Beetles affected by development can be low cost and readily adaptable to a variety of land management situations.
Mechanisms to ensure long-term protection and favourable management of such features are essential.
During 2001, ecosulis ltd successfully mitigated for the effects of new residential development on a Stag Beetle site in London. The aim
of the project was to design and create new habitat as compensation for the loss of existing Stag Beetle habitat to residential development, and also to
secure the favourable long-term management of the compensation habitat.
Prior to development, a log-pile habitat was created on a safeguarded part of the site. A detailed search of the site was undertaken and Stag Beetles were
collected and transferred into the new habitat.
The following year, inspection revealed that Stag Beetles had successfully colonised the habitat as a new generation of Stag Beetles were found. The future
managers of the site were provided with instructions explaining how to maintain the Stag Beetle habitat. These largely recommended a ‘leave alone’
approach, although occasional ‘topping up’ of logs and sensitive vegetation trimming was recommended.
Managing sites in favour of Stag Beetles involves retaining as much dead wood (logs, windblown trees and stumps) as possible. The wood must be partially
shaded to avoid desiccation and be lying on or close to the ground. A buffer zone should be managed around these areas so that soil and vegetation are
protected from disturbance. Ideally this vegetation should not be cut between May and September. Stump grinding of tree stumps should be avoided
wherever possible. Identifying the needs of Stag Beetles in site management plans, and providing particular prescriptions for the management of dead
wood is an important step to conserving Stag Beetle populations.